Monday, January 12, 2009

Immortal- Damned in Black

I'm a huge fan of Immortal's later period, following the loss of their guitarist (to metal-induced tendonitis): Sons of Northern Darkness and At the Heart of Winter are real highlights of their discography--while Damned in Black, the record under discussion here, has never really caught fire with me. While not *very* different in sound from, say, Blizzard Beasts or Sons of Northern Darkness, this is much much cleaner and has much more reasonable tempos than earlier classics Pure Holocaust or Battles in the North. 

To the attuned metal ear, Blizzard Beasts is more Morbid Angel-influenced, while the albums from At the Heart of Winter onwards are more like 1980s Metallica. And Damned in Black has that very huge "arena" sound as well, while still being very no-frills. 

Sadly, Damned in Black is devoid of the huge moments in which other Immortal albums are superabundant. There is a cool break in "My Dimension," the first riff to the title track is huge, and the first song "Triumph" knows its way around the Bathory discography--but for the most part, the songs are same-y, and you never need to put down your nail-clippers (or what have you) in order to start headbanging. 

Most of all, Damned in Black is not a grower. At all. It is without charm, without "hits," and never distinguishes itself from their other albums in this style. It sounds cool, and I'm glad to own it, but---you know when you like a band so much, that even their lesser works get a lot of play, and they start to grow on you? Well, with Immortal, Damned in Black never really enters the rotation, it just sits there, not really demanding any re-evaluation. Which is not to say that this is not a veritable encyclopedia of riffs. But the whole is truly less than the sum of its parts in this case.

Score: 2.5 stars /5 (** 1/2)
Best songs: "The Darkness that Embrace Me," [sic] "My Dimension," "Against the Tide"

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